By John J. Blanchard
January 12, 2013
Here we are early in January 2013, and we want to talk today about the law, the holy days, and stability. If there is anything that the world needs right now, it is more stability.
One of the most stressful aspects of life today is the fact that there is so much uncertainty. People are uncertain. Will I be able to keep my job in this new year? Will I be able to keep up with my bills, my mortgage, and my payments? What happens if I get sick? You can hardly afford to get sick anymore. It is so expensive to get medical care. People have all of these concerns. Then of course there is nothing more disconcerting than watching the news and seeing our politicians and dysfunctional government. Everybody is at each other’s throat! It engenders all these things when you watch the news and when you follow the news. If you happen to be part of the news because you are getting foreclosed on or whatever, you ask can I trust my bank? The institutions that we used to think were rock solid, on our side, and absolutely trustworthy turned out not to be the case. Millions of people found out that their bank was not so honest with them. Can you trust your credit card companies? Or if you miss a payment, are they going to quadruple your interest rate overnight? Can you trust the stock market? Perhaps that is where you have your IRA or your 401k or in Canada your RRSP. Whatever your retirement plan is, can you trust that your broker has your interest at heart or that the market is not being manipulated?
How about the government itself, as we mentioned. It is so fractured and so partisan. It seems like they are so petty in their arguments that they cannot get any major things done, and when they do, it is usually a fiasco.
All these things lend to a life that has no stability in it, and that causes stress, anxiety, and depression in our lives. When we look out there, we ask why isn’t there any stability? We see corruption, greed, and a tremendous amount of materialism. So often now the news is interspersed with acts of violence.
We look at all of these things and say it’s a modern lament! There is no stability in life, but there is all this corruption, violence, and evil everywhere. How will I ever be able to bear up? People are literally groaning under this load of uncertainty. Uncertainty contributes to instability in our lives. It makes people sometimes go off their rocker, as they say. They lose their mind because they cannot handle the stress anymore.
Often we hear politicians or people of certain persuasions saying we need more laws. I do not know how many laws are on the books in the United States, but I know just the health care law is 2,700 pages. I think the IRS code is 50,000 pages. Those are just two segments of the law. When you add in all the other laws, you have to ask yourself, don’t we have enough laws? Why do we keep needing more and more laws on more and more picayune subjects just to make sure people keep doing the right thing? How did we get in this fix?
I am going to tell you something that I think you’re not often going to hear from too many people, but I think it is the truth. We chose this mess! It was personal choice. It was the personal choice of millions and millions of people. Sometimes it may not have been your particular choice or my particular choice, but it was a choice of enough people that we got in this situation. Let me expound on this just a little bit.
You often get what you deserve in life. When you see a country that is dysfunctional as ours is right now, it could be that we deserve it because that’s what we wanted. I would like to say that today too many people are out for themselves. It is all about “me.” There are a lot of catch phrases that you could use to describe this time, and you have probably heard a lot of them. “I want to live life my way.” “I want to chart my own course.” “I live by my own rules.” Those types of attitudes, which we will call me-ness—it’s all about me—have two basic results that I want to talk about today.
A FRACTURED SOCIETY
The first result is a fractured and unstable society because if everyone is breaking off and doing their own thing without thinking what is good for the whole, it is going to fracture society. That is going to lead to the situation we have now. That also results in millions of people leading lives of quiet desperation and sure despair in some cases. They are so confused, so depressed, and so lonely, that it is affecting their health, their mental outlook, and everything about their life. It leads to those questions. How did we get in this situation? We brought it upon ourselves. We brought about this fractured society by too many people wanting it their way—me-ness. Me-ness leads to loneliness and isolation.
A DIVIDED CHRISTIANITY
The second result of these attitudes is a fractured and divided Christianity. It is hopelessly divided. A friend of mine of another faith and denomination but a Christian said to me, Christianity is a mess! I said, yes it is, and it is getting messier. It doesn’t seem that a week goes by that another church is fracturing or another argument, schism, or big debate over some strange doctrine or belief takes place. It is not supposed to be this way, but that is a result of me-ness. People want it their way.
Turn to our first Scripture in I Corinthians chapter 1. We will start reading in verse 10 where Paul is pleading with the brethren here, which means he is pleading with Christians. I Corinthians 1, verse 10: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
You can picture that even in early Christianity they were having conflicts over personalities. I am following this minister. This is my favorite minister. They were arguing about petty things. What we argue about today makes that pale into insignificance. Of course, we can see the major breakdowns. People say, I am Catholic or I am Baptist or I am Methodist or I am Mennonite or I am Seventh Day Adventist. Then we see each denomination breaking and fracturing into smaller and smaller segments. That is because of me-ness. People want it their own way. If they can’t have their way, they are going to split off and go somewhere else. Or they may drop religion altogether. A recent poll, which I believe was a Pugh Research Poll, said that twenty percent of Americans no longer identify themselves with any religion. That is the highest of all time.
Christianity was not supposed to be divided like this. We could see it starting back in the early church with people following personalities. Then a few hundred years later it started with separate denominations, so to speak. It was those who wanted to call themselves anti-Jewish Christians and then your Jewish-appearing Christians. It was stupid, of course, but Satan divides and conquers. That was the first big division. Then it kept splitting. There was the Protestant Reformation and various Protestant denominations formed. Then there was splitting off into smaller and smaller groups.
Christianity is indeed a mess, as my friend said. What it has done is robbed us of stability in the Christian faith. It has robbed us of stability, but it was a choice. People chose to do these things in each case, just like we have chosen to be selfish. We want things our way. When it came to religion, people chose to divide. People chose to argue instead of being unified. Paul was fighting it, and indeed all the apostles were fighting it back in the early days. They were trying to keep a lid on things, but God knew this would happen. He knew it would get worse and worse until we would come to the latter days when it would be terrible.
DO IT GOD’S WAY
A simple solution and it should be so obvious to all, what we need to unify and get stability back into our Christian lives is to do it God’s way. If we all were doing everything God’s way, this should never have happened. That is the only way we will ever reverse it.
Let’s go back into Matthew chapter 22. Christ put things in very basic terms here. Matthew 22, starting in verse 34: “But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.”
You had these two competing intellectual groups within the Jewish faith at the time. There were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. When the Pharisees saw that the Sadducees had been put in their place by Jesus Christ, they thought, we’re going to talk to Christ now.
Continuing in Matthew 22, verse 35: “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him, a question, testing Him [they were going to test Christ here], and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
Christ boiled it down to two very basic commandments. He said, I want you to love your fellow man, but I want you to love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. If you do these two things—love God and love your fellow man—you can’t go wrong. But He said on top of that, the entire law and the prophets hang on these two things. The entire law and the prophets hang on these two things. Christ could not have been more basic than that, so He answered their question.
These two basic things that He was talking about here would be an absolutely solid unifying thing for all Christianity if we could learn to do it right. Obviously we need to learn how to do this right. This is where things get fleshed out.
Let’s turn to John. Jesus Christ fleshed it out for us. Here He says in John chapter 14, verse 15: “If you love Me [if you love Jesus Christ], keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever [speaking of the Holy Spirit, of course] the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
He says, I will come to you as the Holy Spirit and live with you—even after He is gone—if you keep My commandments. When we look at a fractured, divided Christianity we say that cannot be the fruits of the Spirit. We can see obviously we are not doing what Christ said. Keep His commandments, and then He will give us His Holy Spirit. Then we will be led by that Spirit. If we do not keep His commandments, first of all we are not loving Him, but then He can’t give us this help. We have condemned ourselves to grope around in the dark and argue about every little thing, which leads to the fracturing that we have today.
Let’s go back to Matthew chapter 5 because Christ gives us more help here in steering our course straight regarding the commandments. Here again He could not be clearer about the commandments. Matthew 5, verse 17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Remember it was on those two commandments Christ said hang all the law and the prophets. He said, I did not come to destroy what the prophets said, and I did not come to destroy the law.
Continuing in verse 18 of Matthew 5: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
As far as I can tell, the earth is still here. We are still all real, and heaven is still in existence. Therefore that is a long time. That law is still valid.
Verse 19: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
It is a tremendous warning! Don’t mess with the commandments! He tells us in one place, if you love Me, keep My commandments. He warns us in another place, don’t mess with them, and don’t teach other people to mess with them or there were going to be dire consequences! Yet, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees in their time were choosing and picking what to do. And just how they wanted to keep the commandments and how to teach others, Christianity has done the same thing. Christ had warned about that very explicitly not to do those things.
TRADITIONS OF MEN
Let’s turn to Matthew chapter 15 where Christ warns the people of His day very strongly and that is a warning for us today. Matthew 15, beginning in verse 1: “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God’—then he need not honor his father or mother.”’”
He says, you have found a way around the commandment to honor your father and your mother! Just like you are judging someone who does not wash their hands before they eat bread. Isn’t that ridiculous! I have been on many a job site where you are filthy dirty working hard and you have to eat your lunch with dirty hands. Are you committing some kind of horrible sin? It may not be the healthiest thing, but it is not a sin. Christ is taking them to task, and He continues here in verse 6:
Verse 6 of Matthew 15: “‘…then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”
He said, by your teachings and traditions you can actually nullify My commandments.
In verse 7 He speaks straight to them: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
That warning was not just for the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It is in the New Testament. Their power and strength was ending, and Christianity was on the verge of beginning. That is a warning for us. It’s in the gospels. The Pharisees and the Sadducees tweaked God’s law. They made the rules their rules. They made up new traditions and new things to observe all for their benefit, their glory, for their self-aggrandizement. They did this for their me-ness, you could say. God said, don’t do that. Don’t do that! Don’t teach your traditions and your own rules in place of My commandments.
In Matthew 23 He has many warnings here. We won’t read all of this chapter. It is a fairly lengthy one, but it would be good for you to read that on your own time. Christ really took them to task and was very blunt with them. Let’s start in Matthew 23, verse 1: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi.”’”
He said this is all for their own glory and self-aggrandizement. They put all these rules and regulations upon you, so they can accuse you of all manner of silly things that are just their own rules. That is where we get the term “don’t be so Pharisaical.” They have all these rules that people were breaking.
It’s like the laws today. You cannot draw breath today and not end up breaking the law somewhere somehow in going about your daily life. There are so many laws that you are not even aware of, and they pass more all the time. It is because they have forgotten the very basics.
It is the same in Christianity. We have all these rules and changes, doctrinal fights, and disputes. Christ said that is so wrong. Putting burdens upon people and tearing the body of Christ apart is so bad.
Dropping down to verse 11 of Matthew 23 He says here: “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
He says, in today’s parlance, they are not going to have the fancy mansions, the beautiful airplanes, or the mega churches with fantastic salaries. They are your servants. They are supposed to be your servants.
Verse 12: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
He goes on in this whole chapter really being blunt with the scribes and the Pharisees. We need to learn from that because we are going through the same thing. We see all kinds of traditions being taught as the rules of God, and God’s rules and commandments being abandoned. People talk about everything from the prosperity gospel to proponents of Christmas—I will throw that in there right now—and writing strange books about prophecy, and they are getting rich off this stuff. They are getting rich and loving all the attention they get, but they do not put the people of God first. It is a travesty.
CHOOSING OUR WAY OVER GOD’S WAY
For 1,700 years Christianity has been picking and choosing its own ways. I am going to give you a few examples. Christianity started charting its own course and doing it their own way when they decided for themselves which day was the Sabbath. It was Christians in about the year 300 or so that decided they were going to keep Sunday. God did not tell them to do that. They said, we don’t want to do that Saturday Sabbath. That looks Jewish. Now we have churches today where some say any day you pick is okay. You can choose your Sabbath.
We have Christians deciding what is a family and coming up with very strange definitions. What is adultery? They decide what is okay to get away with. When does life begin? When is it okay to take a life, whether it is through abortion or partial-birth abortion? Which trimester is it okay, or which religious war is okay? When is it okay to go to war in God’s name? What is an idol? When can we put up statues and icons, and when should we not? On and on it goes, but these decisions have been rendered by mankind and taught as doctrines now for about 1,700 years. These were all choices. They were man-made choices. They caused us over time to lose our way and to become more and more fractured. We see Christianity today in a total mess.
We need to go back to God’s word for guidance, for truth, and for help to know exactly how to get out of this mess that we are in. Turn to Psalm 119 for some wisdom. We are going to start in verse 142. Psalm 119, verse 142 where it is speaking of God: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.”
The law is honest. It is truth.
Verse 143: “Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, yet Your commandments are my delights. The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.”
The Psalmist wants to understand God’s law. He wants to apply it in his life and gain understanding, so that he can do it God’s way. He knew it had to hinge on the commandments because they are the truth.
We could go to many, many Scriptures to prove this point, so we are just going to do a few. Isaiah chapter 8 says it very clearly. After talking earlier in verse 16 about binding up the testimony and sealing the law of the disciples, which is in verse 16, it says in verse 20 of Isaiah chapter 8: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Do you wonder why the world is such a dark place? Do you wonder why Christians are groping around wondering what to do and how we got in this fix? We have gotten this way by not keeping the law and the testimony. By seeking God’s ways of doing things, that would be sealing the law and the testimony in their lives. Obviously this is crucial because if you are not keeping the commandments, we are told that there is no light in you. That is sad! That is confusion. That is a lack of stability. That is tremendous uncertainty. That leads to the fracturing we see.
Let’s go back to Exodus and read about God’s law when He instituted it as a covenant and the law itself. Turn to Exodus chapter 19 where God made it a covenant. There again, you can read the whole chapter, but I want to focus on verse 5. God says this in Exodus 19, verse 5: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.”
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
We have to keep this agreement. What is the agreement? He sums it up with the law—the Ten Commandments. Let’s go to Exodus chapter 20 and read the law. Remember Christ said, if you love Me, keep My commandments and love your neighbor as yourself. Love Me with your whole heart and your whole mind. That’s the first four commandments. The last six are how to love our neighbor.
Starting in Exodus chapter 20, verse 1: “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.’”
That is the first commandment. Do not put any other god above Me.
Verse 4: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…”
Here is where we get the answer about icons, idols, images like a statuary and that sort of thing.
Continuing in Exodus 20, verse 4: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
God says, I will love you to the thousandth generation if you keep these commandments. This is a covenant I am making with you. But not only are you not to have another god before Me, I do not want you to make any image of anything you consider holy. Don’t do it! That is a commandment. That is the second commandment. The third commandment is in verse 7.
Verse 7: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
This means you do not blurt out God’s name in anger or hatred toward anything, including something as minor as hitting your thumb with a hammer. Also taking God’s name in vain is not believing Him at His word. That’s not believing that He backs things up in His name. If you do those things, you diminish God’s name, and that is taking His name in vain. He said do not do that. The fourth commandment is in verse 8.
Verse 8: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
Only God can make something holy. He said this is a day each week that is holy. No man can proclaim any other day holy. What did we do? We did exactly that. Christianity decided to name a different holy day—a different day of the week. It started a big schism and a big fight. That was the first major fracturing of the church. We were told right here in the fourth commandment. If you love God, the first four commandments are how to love God. Keeping the Sabbath day is a way to love God. He would bless us, He said, in verse 5 of chapter 19 if we would do these things.
Now from verse 12 is where we start the last six commandments and how to love our fellow man. Christ talked about this.
Verse 12 of Exodus 20: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
He told the Pharisees to their face, you don’t honor your parents. You get around honoring your parents, sharing with them, and taking care of them in their old age. You use My name to do it! He said, you are hypocrites for that.
Verse 13: “You shall not murder.”
That is the sixth commandment.
Verse 14: “You shall not commit adultery.”
Verse 15: “You shall not steal.”
Verse 16: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Verse 17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
If we would do those last six commandments, we would not need a pile of laws.
When Jesus Christ was being carried by Mary, she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Her cousin was carrying John the Baptist. The baby—John the Baptist—jumped in Elizabeth’s womb when she saw Mary. The baby leaped. Was that baby alive? Was it for us to decide that if they did not pass a certain point, we can abort babies now? There is no example for that. That is all our human reasoning. It is sick!
There are so many places where we have decided what is bad behavior. For example, what is adultery and what is acceptable? This leads to what is a family because if the family breaks down, the definition of adultery breaks down. It is all our human reasoning and putting things in place of God’s law that have brought about the mess that we are in. Our families are falling apart, and that leads to instability. Children are growing up with uncertainty in their lives. It causes the mess that we see in Christianity and in our society today.
That is the law. It is immutable. It is eternal. God said this is forever. It cannot be changed by human beings. Remember Christ said all the law and all the prophets hang on these two great commandments—loving God and loving your fellow man.
THE BIBLICAL HOLY DAYS
Let’s go to Leviticus chapter 23. This chapter explains all the holy days. It talks about instituting these holy days. These are the days that God said each year were going to be holy to Him. We are only going to read the first five verses here, but you can read the whole chapter to get all the holy days.
Leviticus 23, starting in verse 1: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.”’”
They can also be called high Sabbaths.
Verse 3: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
He said, the first of the feasts is in My commandments, but I am repeating it here. It is the Sabbath day. Then He follows with the high Sabbaths beginning with Passover.
Verse 4 of Leviticus 23: “These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.”
We are going to stop there because we are going to talk about the Passover a little bit during the course of this sermon. He goes on to name all of His holy days. He says, this is what you are going to keep. These are My holy convocations. These are the things you are to observe. They will be for you guiding lights and prophetic understanding if you follow them. You will understand My laws and what My prophets are all about if you keep these days. We did not do it. Christianity veered off, the vast majority of them taking on all manner of holy days that are not mentioned in the Bible. God gives these clearly as commandments to keep to understand the prophets and to love Him.
These Sabbaths are for signs, for guidance, and for stability. Let’s go back to Exodus 31 just to see that Christ really does call these signs. Exodus 31, verse 12: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.”’”
That means forever.
Verse 17 of Exodus 31: “‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”
You have this law containing the Sabbath which is a sign, and you have these high Sabbaths which were put together in Leviticus 23 as the days you shall keep. It has to do with the law—the Ten Commandments—and the prophets. If we want to understand what these signs and way markers are, we need to keep them and to observe them.
As a matter of fact, in Leviticus they were called feasts and holy convocations. Those terms are used interchangeably and sometimes with Sabbath from the Hebrew word mowed (#4150, Strong’s, 1995). That word mowed means an appointment, a fixed time or season, specifically a festival, conventionally a year, and by implication an assembly as convened for a definite purpose. During the course of the year you keep these days, and you gather on them for a specific purpose.
Continuing with the definition: technically the congregation, also a signal as appointed beforehand, an appointed sign or time. The Sabbath and the holy days are signals. They are appointments with destiny between man and God, you could say. Therefore they are holy and important for us to observe.
Many times we hear the human argument that was for the Jews or that was for ancient Israel. Unfortunately, God said forever didn’t He? When you come to the New Testament, when people argue from that point of view, they have a difficulty. Not only did Jesus Christ keep the Sabbath and the holy days, but so did His apostles after Christ died.
You notice in Leviticus and in Exodus God said these were forever. He never said, until I change My mind or until you decide there is a holy day you would rather keep. God said these are immutable and unchangeable forever. That’s why the apostles kept it. It was very significant and very important. We are going to zero in on Pentecost right now.
If you would, go to Acts chapter 1. After Christ was killed and resurrected, He appeared to His disciples. In Acts chapter 1, verse 4 He tells them here: “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me’”
Remember the promise? If you keep My commandments, I am going to send you the Holy Spirit.
Verse 5 of Acts 1: “…for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
He said, that would be Me coming to you to live with you and guide you. But you have to keep My commandments first.
Verse 6: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’”
That covers the entire Christian dispensation because the apostles did not make it to the end of the world. They did cover Judea and the area around the Mediterranean, but they did not make it to the whole world. They did not even know what the whole world was. The body of Christ has now taken the gospel around the world and divided it and subdivided it into all these different denominations that do not get along. They keep fracturing more and more. That was not how it was intended to be.
Christ said, I want you to be gathered together because soon I am going to send you the Helper. They obeyed in chapter 2. Notice what it says in Acts 2, verse 1: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
That is the second set of spring holy days of the year. You have Passover and Unleavened Bread, and then Pentecost, which is the last of the spring holy days. All the apostles and 120 believers, as you would have read about earlier in chapter 1, were assembled in obedience to Christ on that day. They were in one place.
Acts 2, verse 2: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
We are not going to go through the whole set of miracles that took place that day, but I want to focus on the fact that they were obedient to God keeping that holy day. The Pharisees were not there! The Sadducees were not there! The people who formed the multitudes to get healed and that watched the miracles of the blessing and the multiplication of fish and loaves were not there! The 120 closest followers were there. Because of that, they received that blessing. They were obeying the mowed. They were obeying the commanded assembly, and they were richly rewarded for that. That is an example to us.
Whoever was not obedient to that day and following Christ’s directive for that Pentecost, did not receive the Holy Spirit. That is one example of many. If you were to read the entire book of Acts, and we are only going to read a couple Scriptures, you would see that not only were the apostles keeping Pentecost, they were keeping Unleavened Bread, Passover, and the Sabbath.
Let’s go to Acts chapter 20. The apostles also seemed to be rushing from here to there to get somewhere before the next holy day or to get to a town, so they could speak there on the Sabbath. This is after Paul had been involved in a riot where people were trying to shut him down. Read Acts 20:1-6.
We see Paul and these Greek followers were keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread. If you drop down to verse 13, we will continue reading: “Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and the next day came opposite Chios. The following day we arrived at Samos and stayed at Trogyllium. The next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be a Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.”
Paul wanted to be at Jerusalem to keep Pentecost. Earlier he is keeping Unleavened Bread with Greek converts, and now he wants to go back to where his Jewish apostle friends were and keep Pentecost. Obviously the Church was keeping the holy days. People say that is because they were Jewish. They were doing it with Greeks there, but we are going to see in I Corinthians 5 once again another example.
Go to I Corinthians chapter 5. Paul is talking to the Corinthian church here—a very Greek church. They were having some sins that were not being dealt with in their congregation. He says this beginning in I Corinthians 5, verse 6: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”
Leaven, of course, pictures sin.
Verse 7: “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
He said, keep the holy day. Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread. He is telling the Greek church in Corinth to keep those days. Do it physically, so that you understand you are supposed to keep it with unleavened bread. Realize the spiritual intent is to put wickedness out of your lives and to bring in sincerity and truth.
It is incumbent upon the Church to hang on to these days, or we are going to get darkened and confused in our lives and lose out. Go back to the beginning to the basics that the apostles followed themselves as an example for us and do it. Then we would see our problems dissipate and unity come.
Let’s go back to Matthew chapter 12 because we saw in I Corinthians 5 that clearly Christ is called our Passover. We will see how important it was to understand what the Passover was for, just like keeping of Pentecost was to the 120. Matthew chapter 12, beginning in verse 38: “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying [to Christ], ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’”
He says, you want a sign? You are going to have a sign. It will be My death, being put in the grave for three days, and then My resurrection. That’s what is going to make Me your Passover. If they had been listening with an ear to understand and not be so judgmental and not so hypocritical, they would have taken that to heart. They would have realized Christ was the Passover. They would have been among the 120 and maybe there would have been 200 or 300, or maybe there would have been 10,000 people on that first Pentecost if they had been keeping God’s holy days. But they did not believe Christ, and they did not see the sign. We just read that those signs which are the Sabbath day and the holy days are signs and moweds for us to grasp what it is God is doing. Otherwise we miss these signs, and we have no clue. Then we can easily be led astray to make our own signs and make our own days. We substitute our own Sabbaths and holy days instead of God’s. The further removed and the further we get away from these basic things, the more confused, the more fractured, and the more divided we become. That is not what God intended.
STABILITY FROM THE COMMANDMENTS
In I John chapter 5 which is well into John’s life and well after Christ had died, John speaks of the commandments very fondly here. In his epistle John says this in I John chapter 5, verse 1: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God [that should say begotten], and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
He said if you love God and you love your brethren, you will keep the commandments, which is exactly what Christ had taught John so many decades before this. If you love Me, keep My commandments. Upon the two commandments of loving God and loving our fellow man hang all the law and all the prophets.
If we want understanding and stability in our lives, if we want confusion to dissipate, and if we want hope, then we are going to have to keep the commandments. It is undeniable. If we want to call ourselves Christian, we need to get back to these basics and undo 1700 years of fracturing, dividing, and subdividing. If we do these things, the blessings will manifest in our personal lives, in our families, and in society at large.
Keeping the holy days imparts to us light, truth, and guidance, so that we are stable, we are solid, and we are of a sound mind. If we observe the basics, divisions will heal, confusion will clear up and cease, and stability will be ours. What a wonderful world it will be! We will be preparing for the world that will come soon, which is the Millennium. Remember, if you want stability in your life, keep the commandments and the laws of God.